It seems that even those with a vested interest in proceedings found themselves unable to get excited about the much-debated, F1 2010 curtain-raising Bahrain Grand Prix – with former world champion Lewis Hamilton admitting that his mum told him the race was 'so boring'.
Following a build-up characterised by fevered anticipation – with headline-grabbing stories including the return of record-breaking F1 legend Michael Schumacher, the presence of four former title-winners in the field, the last two British world champions going head-to-head at McLaren-Mercedes and no fewer than eight potential contenders for glory – the opening salvo of 2010 in Sakhir swiftly degenerated into a procession of nigh-on mind-numbing proportions, with scant overtaking and precious little to keep fans on the edge of their seats.
With the race roundly slated and dubbed 'Bore-rain', the finger of blame has been firmly pointed at the ban on refuelling in the top flight this season – a rule change that has made the cars more difficult to drive fully-laden, shifted the emphasis from attacking enthusiasm and brio to tyre-management and fuel conservation and left the sport with much to prove in the forthcoming Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne this coming weekend.
“I had dinner with my mum on Wednesday night and, when I asked her about the first race of the season in Bahrain, she said to me, 'It was so boring',” Hamilton is quoted as having said by the Daily Mail
. “I haven't seen the race, but I've heard from a lot of people that it wasn't positive.
“People were so excited by the hype around the new season, what with Michael Schumacher coming back as well, but when they sat down to watch it they found it so dull. With the heavy fuel load and tyres that fall away, we haven't got enough grip.”
Despite F1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone attempting to deflect some of the criticism of the new regulations by arguing that the design of modern-day cars and the overbearing focus on aerodynamic finesse is the chief cause of the current premium on overtaking, Hamilton's McLaren team-mate and compatriot Jenson Button concurs that the upcoming grands prix will provide the true acid test as to what shape the sport is in.
“It's annoying,” the 30-year-old told Reuters
. “I don't know how we're going to make the racing more exciting than it is. I hope it's just because of the new layout in Bahrain – and [the fact that] it was the first one – that it wasn't so exciting.
“I hope when we are racing in Melbourne we are going to have a bit more action out there and a few more ideas on pit-stops. The thing is now it seems the eight or ten cars at the front pull away from the pack and wait until they've got a gap to fall into [before pitting]. We've all got the same information, so as soon as we find a gap, one car pits from one of those teams, and the next lap the other car pits.
“It's still fantastic [that] you have eight cars at the front that are competitive, and I think we'll see them fighting it out at races to come in qualifying, and also we will see different winners – but wheel-to-wheel action, we hope that's going to come. I hope it gets better, for all of our sakes.
“There's a lot of pressure now on everyone to put on a good show in Australia. The next few races are important; then we'll know if the sport has to take another direction. That's not my decision, it's Bernie's – but we don't want all the races to be like the one in Bahrain.”